There’s something magical that happens when a story’s heart and talent is in the right place. A certain kind of synchronicity occurs that makes a reader exclaim things out loud as if they were part of the events themselves. I read the first issue of Venus on a whim and enjoyed it. That enjoyment has been enhanced tenfold in the second issue. The story concerns the first group of scientists going to Venus to try and inhabit it, but something goes wrong and they are left stranded and fighting to stay alive every second on their new home planet.
The heart: You can feel, see, and hear Rick Loverd and Huang Danlan’s love of space exploration and science fiction on every page, in every line of dialogue throughout the book. While much of the science might be beyond our grasp currently, it’s firmly rooted in reality. With every cause, there is an effect. The crew thinks like scientists in the way they speak and problem solve (in a few instances hilariously so), and as the dangers increase, so too does their need to think outside of the box. No matter how much they butt heads over how something should be done, they get things done. This is survival.
The talent: With our two main characters are presented in the first issue through a dynamic conflict of interest – the captain is dead, the next person in line steps up and is met with resistance – the creators now spread their wings and succinctly develop the surrounding members of the crew. The great thing is that these characters come to life as each new hurdle presents itself which means our concern for the characters grows in parallel with every new twist and turn in the story. I felt myself leaning a little closer to the computer screen as I read. I found myself exclaiming “No!” in a panic a couple of times.
Creating this grounded sense of reality is truly what brings the book to life and makes the final page’s hook that much more devastating. There are no aliens. There is simply humanity fighting to stay alive in an environment that only can kill them, and it gets worse – which means it will only get better for us.